Avon Impulse, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-06-230472-8
Contemporary Romance, 2015
Georgia Fulton, the “nerdy” daughter of the President of the United States, wants to be a serious journalist, but her first assignment sees her on the ball for a scoop on Brett Knox, a baseball superstar. Brett has a big crush on her all this while, and Georgia has a thing for jocks, so this is a match made in heaven. However, Georgia’s job requires her to find a juicy angle for a scoop, but she finds that she is unwilling to “betray” Brett. Oh, romance can be so complicated sometimes!
Now, I have no idea why Georgia feels that she would be betraying Brett, considering all along that he knows what she is. If he blabs some dire family secrets out to her, how is that her fault? However, Various States of Undress: Georgia has a Xerox plot that is almost entirely the same as any story in which a heroine has to interview a hot guy, so any reader who has read that plot before will know that a scoop will come out anyway despite the heroine’s weak protests, and the heroine would then quit her job and be rewarded for her “niceness” with a husband. Only, in this story, the context makes this entire plot laden with unfortunate implications.
First, we have a heroine who, in her first job, gets so emotional that she ends up sleeping with her subject, convinces herself that she is in love with him, and lets her emotions completely undermine her ability to do her job. Two, she shows no sign of competency even before she puts out to Brett, as she never asks hard-hitting questions or even think or act like some kind of journalist. Three, she blames herself in a completely blown out of proportion style and quits the moment things get tough, and this is portrayed as a good thing. Four, she objects to anything more complicated than banal feel-good fluff, and gets rewarded with an editor position. What is she editing? I don’t know and I don’t want to know. Maybe the newsletter of the My Little Ponies fan club. This is another story where “niceness” is a feminine virtue that trumps common sense, and having a man’s love is the ultimate reason for a woman to exist in this world.
The overall message of this stupid story is that good women are emotional creatures, and it is cruel to expect them to do anything more strenuous to their delicate sensibilities – like getting and doing a job in the outside world. Why can’t the world leave women be? Let them stay in the kitchen where they belong, so that they can get emotional while baking cupcakes and chilling the husband’s beer!
In a nice subversion to the normal ways this kind of plot usually goes. Brett never blames Georgia for anything, even telling her that he understands; she is just doing his job. This only makes Georgia’s dramatic self-flagellation more stupid, and the take-home message of this story is doubly idiotic as a result. The guy understands and forgives, it is the woman who insists on upholding the “a good woman is too emotional to cope with the real world, so please keep her confined to the kitchen when she doesn’t have to pop out a brat in the maternity ward” message of the year.
While there are many other romance novels that are thinly-veiled “women belong to the kitchen or on her back under her master and owner of a husband” propaganda, this one takes the prize for coming off as just so full of it in a way that isn’t even a little believable or entertaining. The poke in the gorge is strong in Various States of Undress: Georgia.